12 awesome after-dark activities
Fun things to do when the sun goes down
Make the most of long dark nights
Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, there’s plenty of fun to be had on winter nights. Try these awesome activities them with friends, family or with your unit to get you all a-glow!
Light up the night
There’s a lot you can do with something as simple as a torch.
1. Torchlight tag
Take a fun twist on a classic game and try playing it in the dark! Choose someone to be the first tagger. Tagger – grab a torch and count down from ten. Everybody else, scatter around and hide. When your time’s up, the tagger will flash their torch. If the light beams on you, you’re out! Keep playing, taking turns to be the tagger.
2. Paint a light picture
Put your camera on a slow shutter speed to capture light trails made with a torch. Try dancing with your torch, writing your name or moving the torch in circles to see what sort of pictures you can create. Guides can take it further with the Photography interest badge. There’s lots of free slow shutter speed apps out there for smart phones if you don’t have a camera with shutter speed control.
Need a torch? Check out our wind-up Guides torch in the official Girlguiding shop
Did you know? People have marked the passing of the winter solstice - the shortest day and longest night of the year - since ancient times. Light and fire are often part of celebrations.
3. Light up trail
Make an outdoor trail for you and your friends or family to explore at night time. Perhaps you could use little fairy lights, lanterns or torches. Why not tell a story with your trail, placing something to read or find at each light point. You could even create a magical sparkling landscape for all to enjoy!
Make sure to ask an adult to check the area of your trail before you start, and always stay together as a group.
Glow sticks are fun, but the plastic and chemicals included have an environmental impact so do your research before buying, and see if you can find reusable, sustainable solutions. You could wear lots of reflective clothing like high vis jackets if you have any at home.
Have an intergalactic adventure
One of the best things about night time is the night sky. Bring the sky to life with these wonder-inducing activities.
4. Storytelling with the stars
Younger girls can keep a stargazing journal and tell stories based on the stars. Try these activities that we’ve created with our friends at the Royal Astronomical Society:
Did you know? The winter solstice, also known as midwinter, is the day of the year with the fewest hours of daylight. The winter solstice marks the start of astronomical winter and occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun.
5. Take photos of the night sky
Try astrophotography and discover all the incredible things that are happening in our night sky. Our friends at the Royal Astronomical Society have put together a handy video and activities to help you on your way.
6. Blast off!
Brownies can blast off for an out-of-this-world adventure with the Space interest badge.
Grab a coat and brave the cold!
7. Night time creepy crawlies
How much do you know about the different creepy crawlies who come out at night time? Moths belong to the order Lepidoptera, like butterflies, but they’re nocturnal so come out at night. Did you know there are more than 2,500 types of moths in the UK alone? Try our free Rangers magazine unit meeting activity (pp.66-67) and see what else you can find out about them!
8. Night hike
Rachel Hibbard, leader with 1st Daventry and 1st Welton Guides, suggests going on a night hike. She says 'it doesn't have to be anywhere new, just a place you would normally visit but do it in the dark (with torches)'.
9. High viz outing
See if you can find some high visibility clothing and go for a safe outing altogether with your family or friends. Maybe you’ll go for a walk or run, and see who can be the safest and most reflective of them all! Shine your torches on each other to light up the area for all to see.
10. Tapping sticks hide and seek
Leader Nicky Kinnersley, with 2nd Chalfont St. Giles Guides, suggests Tapping Sticks Hide and Seek - which can be played socially distanced too and inside or out.
To play, a few girls hide while everyone else counts to twenty. The hidden players then tap two sticks together every thirty seconds. The seekers attempt to find them by listening for the tapping. The hiders can move around if they wish. The game ends when all the tappers are discovered.
Did you know? The stones at Stonehenge frame the midwinter sunset at the winter solstice. For the people of Stonehenge, who were farmers, knowing when the seasons were changing was important. Marking this yearly cycle may have been one of the reasons that Neolithic people built Stonehenge – a monument aligned to the movements of the sun.
11. Cosy campfires
It’s time to get cosy with a campfire! Toast marshmallows, tell stories and sing some of your favourite campfire songs. If you’re doing it with family or friends, why not teach them your favourite guiding song? Or you could use it as a reflective time to share some of your positive memories from a challenging year. If you’re not able to have a fire, try toasting marshmallows over a tea light.
- Never leave a fire unattended and wait until it is fully extinguished.
- Always have a bucket of water/sand/earth nearby to extinguish the fire.
- Never light a fire on peat, under a tree or near shrubs and bushes.
- Tie your hair back and make sure clothes and jewellery are tucked in.
Be aware of how the direction of the wind could blow your fire.
12. Storytime in the dark with hot drinks
Being in the dark can make a different atmosphere – maybe it makes things feel more magical, or spooky. Grab your hot chocolate, wrap up warm and share some stories with each other in the dark. Will you choose a spooky story or a magical mystery? Perhaps you could spice up your drinks with cinnamon or cloves to make it feel more festive. Just remember to check for allergies for making any of your drinks.